The “Geography Of Incarceration”


Josh Begley created Prison Map (detail above) to understand it. Jane-Claire Quigley sees the power of the project:

At first, Josh Begley’s Prison Map may not seem so remarkable: a bunch of ariel photos of some pretty ugly concrete buildings. But then the infinite scroll sets in. There are just so many. There are at least 700 prisons on this site, and that’s just a fraction of the almost 5,000 prisons in America, the world’s most incarcerated nation, with more than 740 of every 100,000 citizens behind bars.

Emily Badger reflects on the rural-vs-urban divide in incarceration:

Some of the most striking images are those of rural prisons, which project intricate patterns onto otherwise empty landscapes. These rural prisons often house urban prisoners, in the process transforming both the communities where these facilities are located and the neighborhoods from which their inmates came. This population shift has serious consequences for urban, often minority communities, in part because the Census has long counted prisoners where they’re locked up, not where they’re from, costing inner-city communities resources and political capital (this practice, often called “prison-based gerrymandering,” began to gain greater attention during the 2010 Census).